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If you have back pain lasting longer than 6 weeks, you should see your doctor.

If you have back pain lasting longer than 6 weeks, you should see your doctor.
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Back pain

2-minute read

Back pain is very common and affects people of all ages. While it generally improves in a few days, or sometimes weeks, back pain can continue for a long period.

What is back pain?

Back pain usually feels like an ache, tension or stiffness in the back.

Several things can cause it, including your posture, a sudden movement or fall, an injury, or a medical condition. The pain is usually related to the way the bones, discs, tendons, muscles and ligaments work together.

Most people experience lower back pain at some point in their life. Around 8 in 10 Australians have back pain at some point in their lives. Most are of working age, and an equal number of women and men are affected.

Back problems are a common reason for pain among older adults, but they can also start early in life — between the ages of 8 and 10.

If you are experiencing back pain yourself, it is important not to restrict your movement too much. Even if your back is very painful, slow and gentle movements are better than lying still in bed. If you keep your back moving, it will become more supple and flexible.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are concerned about your back pain, why not use healthdirect's online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2019


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